‘Next Katie Taylor’ sues over dentist trauma

Ceire Smith, an elite amateur boxer, leaving court yesterday.

Irish boxing champion Ceire Smith is suing her dentist and the HSE claiming her boxing career has been damaged after she swallowed a sharp dental instrument during root canal treatment.

The High Court was told the 25-year-old Cavan Boxing Club flyweight could have been the next Katie Taylor and could have qualified for the Rio Olympics 2016.

Boxing coach Billy Walsh, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty was told, will say in evidence that Smith was expected to get a medal in Rio.

Smith sued after the sharp instrument dropped down her throat during root canal treatment in October 2013. She was told it would pass through her system.

Instead, her counsel told the court, it travelled inside her body, lodging near her hip only centimetres from her femoral artery. The instrument was eventually taken out of the boxer’s body in September 2014 during surgery.

Michael J McMahon SC handed in pictures to the court of the instrument, which he said was sharp and was a barbed broach instrument. During this time, Mr McMahon said, the boxer was in training as an elite athlete to go for qualifiers to compete in the Rio Olympics.

“In a nutshell, Billy Walsh will say she would have qualified for Rio 2016,” he said. “Irish ladies boxing was going through a golden era and Billy Walsh will say she was the next Katie Taylor and she would have got a medal.”

Smith, a student from Ballyhaise, Co Cavan sued Rachael Frazer, who has a dental practice at Church St, Cavan, as well as the HSE. Liability has been admitted in the case, which is before the court for assessment of damages only. She claimed the dentist failed to use dental floss or other material to attach to the instrument so it could be retrieved and not swallowed and advised Smith the piece of equipment would be passed by her in days and “it was just a little bit of metal”.

Against the HSE, Smith claimed there was a failure to refer her to a gastroenterologist who could have arranged imaging to track and check on the position of the instrument and undertake appropriate management. She claimed she was advised she was fit to engage in boxing competition.

Smith claimed she competed in the multi-nations in March 2014 in Germany but felt very weak and performed badly. In April of that year she competed and lost in Poland, and had severe abdominal pain. She says she went back to Cavan General Hospital at the end of April 2014 but was told she could continue to compete. In September 2014, Smith returned to Cavan General Hospital in pain but was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.

After investigations she had two bouts of surgery and the instrument was removed in September 2014. The court heard Smith was unable to partake in the world championships in South Korea in November 2014 and this, it was claimed, was damaging to her career and hugely upsetting for her.

The case before Mr Justice Moriarty continues.


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